Most attacks centered on military targets near Saigon and Da Nang and were quickly beaten off. Some speculate that the attacks were mounted to test the will of the new U.S. President Richard Nixon who retaliated by secretly bombing PAVN/VC sanctuaries in Cambodia the following month.
Numerous bases were attacked, these attacks were all beaten back but did inflict casualties and reinforced the fact that PAVN/VC forces were able to mount attacks at will.
|1969 Tet Offensive|
|Part of Vietnam War|
Intelligence had indicators of the pending attacks. On 19 February, a defector surrendered to Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces and revealed a large VC force would attack key installations in the Saigon area to include Long Binh Post. Unfortunately, the reporting was delayed and did not reach Long Binh until the morning of 22 February 1969, the day the defector warned the attacks were set to begin.
After sundown on the 22nd, elements of the VC 274th Regiment, 5th Division made their final preparations while occupying three hills along Highway 15 approximately three kilometers south of the base. That evening, several ambush squads from the 720th Military Police Battalion, 18th MP Brigade kept watch along potential avenues of approach to Long Binh Post. One of the MP ambush squads held a position within a kilometer of the VC stronghold. At 02:00 on 23 February, the 274th VC Regiment initiated their attack with an estimated 78 rounds of rocket and mortar fire from their positions. The rounds landed on post with some igniting the POL fuel site east of the highway.
The VC made several attempts to advance on the base, but were halted. Full-scale sweeping operations to secure the perimeter began just after noon that day. M113 armored personnel carriers and M551 Sheridan armored reconnaissance vehicles supported the forces on the ground while AH-1 Cobra gunships and OH-6 helicopters provided air support. These units made occasional contact, often with PAVN or VC who fought stubbornly from trenches and spider holes.
Since early February 1969, the 1st Marine Division had noted an upsurge in PAVN/VC activity around Da Nang. On 7 February Company D, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines found a PAVN/VC base area near the Nam O bridge northwest of the Red Beach Base Area, leaving the base untouched, they returned at night setting up a series of ambushes that killed 18 PAVN and captured 2. On 8 February patrols from 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines found 7 122mm rockets 14km southwest of Da Nang and another 13 140mm rockets 2km further south. On 18 February a Company F, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines called in artillery fire on a group of PAVN/VC 5km south of Marble Mountain resulting in 21 secondary explosions believed to be from detonating rockets. Also in mid-February Company D, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines engaged an entrenched PAVN platoon 22km southwest of Da Nang killing 30 and the ARVN 2nd Battalion, 51st Regiment operating 4km west of the Marines killed 49 PAVN moving north of Go Noi Island.
After midnight on 23 February Company K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines and Company D, 1st Military Police Battalion detected VC approaching the Song Cau Do river bridges and attacked them killing 47 and capturing 11. A 70-strong VC force attacked the 2/1 Marines command post 6km south of Marble Mountain losing 17 dead.:99
To the west of Da Nang, shortly after midnight on the 23rd Company M, 3/7 Marines ambushed a PAVN force killing 10 and later that night a larger force was spotted and artillery fire was called in. On searching the site at dawn it was found that 2 PAVN 81mm mortar teams had been destroyed in the barrage.:99
Before dawn on 23 February, the first day of Tết, the PAVN/VC fired 25 122mm rockets at Da Nang's deep water port hitting an ARVN ammunition dump and a fuel tank farm at Da Nang Air Base and cause minor damage to an A-6A and 6 helicopters at the Air Base.:97 Later that day rockets hit the An Hoa Combat Base destroying 15,000 rounds of artillery ammunition and igniting 40,000 gallons of aviation fuel and 50 rockets were fired at Naval Support Activity Da Nang with more than half going into the sea and the remainder causing minor damage.:98
At dawn PAVN sappers attacked the 1st Marine Division headquarters on Hill 327 and the 2/7 Marines command post to the northwest. These attacks were repulsed for Marines losses of 18 killed and more than 75 PAVN killed.:100
After dawn on 23 February a VC unit was detected near the Hòa Vang District and the Marine security force killed 6 and captured 2 and forced the rest of the unit to retreat into a cemetery where they were attacked by the ARVN 21st Ranger Battalion the next day losing a further 57 killed.:99
Meanwhile to the west 3/7 Marines continued to engage PAVN forces, forcing them into 3 pockets along the Song Tuy Loan river. Two of the pockets were destroyed by the next morning resulting in the capture of the acting commander of the 141st Regiment. The last pocket along the An Tan ridgeline proved more difficult and Company L, 3/7 Marines suffered numerous casualties forcing it to withdraw. On the morning of 26 February following Napalm and Snake Eye air strikes, Company L, reinforced by Company M assaulted the PAVN position making slow progress against determined PAVN resistance. The attack continued into 27 February when the Marines overran the PAVN resulting in a total of more than 200 killed.:99-100
PAVN/VC retreating to the south from Da Nang were intercepted by elements of the 1st Marine Regiment and ARVN 1st Battalion, 51st Regiment 11km south of Da Nang losing 139 dead in 3 days of fighting.:99
The PAVN/VC attacks on Da Nang were a failure resulting in more than 500 dead.:101
The 101st Airborne Division ("Screaming Eagles") is a specialized modular light infantry division of the US Army trained for air assault operations. The Screaming Eagles has been referred to as "the tip of the spear" by former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the most potent and tactically mobile of the U.S. Army's divisions by former Chief of Staff of the Army GEN Edward C. Meyer (ret). The 101st Airborne is able to plan, coordinate, and execute brigade-size air assault operations capable of seizing key terrain in support of operational objectives, and is capable of working in austere environments with limited or degraded infrastructure. These particular operations are conducted by highly mobile teams covering extensive distances and engaging enemy forces behind enemy lines. According to the author of Screaming Eagles: 101st Airborne Division, its unique battlefield mobility and high level of training have kept it in the vanguard of US land combat forces in recent conflicts. More recently, the 101st Airborne has been performing foreign internal defense and counterterrorism operations within Iraq and Afghanistan.The 101st Airborne Division has a history that is nearly a century long. During World War II, it was renowned for its role in Operation Overlord (the D-Day landings and airborne landings on 6 June 1944, in Normandy, France), Operation Market Garden, the liberation of the Netherlands and its action during the Battle of the Bulge around the city of Bastogne, Belgium. During the Vietnam War, the 101st Airborne Division fought in several major campaigns and battles, including the Battle of Hamburger Hill in May 1969.
In mid-1968, it was reorganized and redesignated as an airmobile division and then in 1974 as an air assault division. The titles reflect the division's shift from airplanes to helicopters as the primary method of delivering troops into combat. Many current members of the 101st are graduates of the US Army Air Assault School. It is known as the ten toughest days in the US Army, and its dropout rate is around 50 percent. Division headquarters is at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. In recent years, the division has served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
At the height of the War on Terror, the 101st Airborne Division had over 200 aircraft. The division now has slightly over 100 aircraft. As of December 2017, the division had about 29,000 soldiers, down from 35,000 soldiers just three years prior because of budget restraints.12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron
The 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron is a United States Air Force flying unit, assigned to the 461st Air Control Wing, stationed at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. The squadron flies the E-8C Joint STARS, providing airborne battle management, command and control, surveillance, and target acquisition.30th Intelligence Squadron
The 30th Intelligence Squadron is an active United States Air Force unit, stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia and operating Distributed Ground Station-1 in association with reserve and Virginia Air National Guard squadrons.
The squadron was first activated as the 460th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron in Vietnam, where it earned two Presidential Unit Citations and two Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat "V" Device for its support of combat reconnaissance operations in Southeast Asia. It performed a similar mission for Tactical Air Command from 1977 to 1982.354th Fighter Squadron
The 354th Fighter Squadron (354 FS) is part of the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. It operates A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft conducting close air support missions.
The squadron conducts Close Air Support, Air Interdiction, Forward Air Control – Airborne, and Combat Search and Rescue for theater commanders worldwide.606th Special Operations Squadron
The 606th Special Operations Squadron is an inactive unit of the United States Air Force. The squadron was first activated as the 606th Air Commando Squadron in March 1966 and stationed at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. The squadron flew C-123 Provider aircraft over the Ho Chi Minh trail at night during the Vietnam War to interdict the movement of people and equipment. The squadron was inactivated on 30 June 1971.633d Air Base Wing
The United States Air Force's 633rd Air Base Wing is the host organization for Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Its headquarters are at Langley Air Force Base. The unification of support for Langley and Fort Eustis was directed by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission.
The wing was first activated at Pleiku Air Base, where it supported special operations and forward air control units in the Central Highlands of South Viet Nam. It served as the host organization for Andersen Air Force Base on Guam when that base was transferred from Strategic Air Command to Pacific Air Forces in 1989 until it was replaced by the 36th Air Base Wing in 1994.633rd Special Operations Wing
The 333d Special Operations Wing is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was active from July 1968 through March 1970 at Pleiku Air Base, South Vietnam. In 1985, the wing was consolidated with the 333d Bombardment Group as the 333d Special Operations Wing.635th Supply Chain Operations Wing
The 635th Supply Chain Operations Wing, a wing of the Air Force Sustainment Center, an Air Force Materiel Command unit, United States Air Force serves as the Air Force's new supply chain manager headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois as an associate tenant.Bien Hoa Air Base
Bien Hoa Air Base is a Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF; Vietnamese: Không quân Nhân dân Việt Nam) military airfield located in South-Central southern Vietnam about 25 km (16 mi) from Ho Chi Minh City, across the Dong Nai river in the northern ward of Tân Phong, and within the city of Biên Hòa within Đồng Nai Province. The boomburb city is densely populated and rings the base, despite the astronomical level of agent orange toxins simply left there for decades. The base is scheduled to begin cleanup by 2019.During the Vietnam War the base was used by the Republic of Vietnam Air Force (RVNAF). The United States used it as a major base from 1961 through 1973, stationing Army, Air Force (USAF), Navy and Marine units there.Biên Hòa
Biên Hòa (Northern accent: listen, Southern accent: listen) is a city in Đồng Nai Province, Vietnam, about 30 kilometres (20 mi) east of Hồ Chí Minh City (formerly Saigon), to which Biên Hòa is linked by Vietnam Highway 1.Da Nang Air Base
Da Nang Air Base (Vietnamese: Căn cứ không quân Đà Nẵng) (1930s–1975) (also known as Da Nang Airfield, Tourane Airfield or Tourane Air Base) was a French Air Force and later Republic of Vietnam Air Force (RVNAF) facility located in the city of Da Nang, Vietnam. During the Vietnam War (1959–1975), it was a major base with United States Army, United States Air Force (USAF), and United States Marine Corps (USMC) units stationed there. Air Vietnam also used the facility from 1951 to 1975 for civilian domestic and international flights within Southeast Asia.Dầu Tiếng District
Dầu Tiếng is a rural district of Bình Dương Province in the Southeast region of Vietnam. As of 2003, the district had a population of 92,592. The district covers an area of 720 km². The district capital lies at Dầu Tiếng town.The district had a base with the same name during the war in Vietnam. Dầu Tiếng Base Camp played a prominent role in the fighting around northern III Corps. On 23 February 1969, the NVA launched a large scale attack on the base to coincide with their Tet 1969 campaign.HSC-12
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 (HSC-12) Golden Falcons is a United States Navy helicopter squadron formerly designated HS-2, based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, in Japan. They are attached to Carrier Air Wing Five with the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.In early 2009, HS-2 Golden Falcons transitioned to the MH-60S Seahawk and were re-designated HSC-12.Hill 327
Hill 327 (also known as Brigade Ridge, Camp Perdue, Camp Reasoner, Division Hill, Division Ridge or Freedom Hill) is a former U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base southwest of Da Nang in central Vietnam. The base was established on a ridgeline 4 km west of Da Nang Air Base.Landing Zone Liz
Landing Zone (LZ) Liz was a forward support base for the US Marines and later for the US Army during the Vietnam War.
LZ Liz was located in Quang Ngai Province, I Corps, south of Da Nang and Chu Lai, west of Highway 1, north of LZ Bronco and Đức Phổ. It was on the Duc Pho and Mo Duc borders, just south of the 515 Highway, that ran from the South China Sea (Highway 1) west to Ba To. LZ Liz consisted of two small hills with a saddle running in between. The saddle was occupied by the artillery. Liz was connected to Highway 1 by an access road that was about 3/4 of a mile in length.Long Binh Post
Long Binh Post (Tổng kho Long Bình) is a former U.S. Army base located in Long Bình ward between Biên Hòa and Saigon, Vietnam.Outline of the Vietnam War
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Vietnam War:
Vietnam War – Cold War-era proxy war that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War (1946–54) and was fought between North Vietnam—supported by the Soviet Union, China and other communist allies—and the government of South Vietnam—supported by the United States, Philippines and other anti-communist allies. The Viet Cong (also known as the National Liberation Front, or NLF), a South Vietnamese communist common front aided by the North, fought a guerrilla war against anti-communist forces in the region. The People's Army of Vietnam, also known as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA), engaged in a more conventional war, at times committing large units to battle.
Easter Offensive (1972)
Post-Paris Peace Accords (1973–1974)